The Muslim Nation which saved Jews…

April 15, 2015 by Barbara Heggen
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During the Holocaust, many individuals and small groups risked their lives to save Jewish people….writes Barbara Heggen.

Lime Basha's family hid three Jewish brothers in their home during WWII (Supplied: Norman Gershman)

Lime Basha’s family hid three Jewish brothers in their home during WWII (Supplied: Norman Gershman)

However, it’s only in recent years that the world has begun to hear the story of the Muslim nation that opened its borders and welcomed Jews.

At the end of World War Two, only one European nation could boast a larger Jewish population than it had at the start of the war.

Despite being occupied by Italy and then Germany, Albania not only protected its Jewish population but offered refuge to Jews from elsewhere in the region—and this is a country with a Muslim majority. The reason for this heroism lies in a concept known as Besa. It’s an Albanian word meaning ‘to keep a promise’. Dashmir Balla, former president of the Albanian Australian Islamic Society, says it’s a code of respect deeply embedded in Albanian culture.

Visit ABC to read more….



4 Responses to “The Muslim Nation which saved Jews…”
  1. Henry Herzog says:

    History, even from a few years ago gets distorted, so the actualities of events that occurred then, in Albania, would be blurred. The main thing is that the Muslims there saved Jewish lives, and that’s what counts. The downtrodden do unite: that’s how societies, and even nations, are created, sometimes for the better but often for the worst.

  2. Lynne Newington says:

    What an opportune time for reflection.

  3. gabrielle gouch says:

    what is the title of the film and where can it be viewed?

  4. Hilary Rubinstein says:

    That’s interesting and touching, but it must be remembered that during certain pogroms in the Ottoman-ruled Near East (Smyrna, for instance) at Easter that were triggered by Greek and Armenian Christians there were cases of Muslims sheltering Jewish friends and neighbours. Unfortunately, Albania is not such a “welcoming” or respectful country regarding women – despite some limited progress in recent years women are to this day despised there as lesser beings and regarded as chattels of their menfolk. I dare say the hospitality that this article celebrates fell mainly on that downtrodden half of Albanian society.

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